First and foremost, I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas, and will have an excellent New Year. I personally had a very good Christmas, although slightly more eventful than I prefer (stove fires and tempered glass breaking… I’m not kidding; I’ll have to tell you more about it later). God willing, New Year’s will be equally enjoyable for me without the unwanted surprises.
And even though the writing has been on hiatus this week (one of the drawbacks of big holidays), I assure you that I will be back on the ball shortly, as I miss sitting down and crafting stories. My goal is to have some good news and good writing ready for all of you in the upcoming year.
So with all that aside, let me get to the crux of this post.
On Christmas night, my family and I went to see The Rise of Skywalker, even though I really didn’t have any desire to do so (my dear extended family, not caring about canon as much as I and my wife and children do, were curious, much like people driving by a car wreck are curious and tend to rubberneck while slowing down…). When the film ended, I walked out shaking my head for a few reasons. To be fair, there were elements of this movie that were of significant improvement, particularly when compared to its predecessor, The Last Jedi. But there were some serious problems as well, most of which I will not get into here simply because others have been more diligent and more crafty in articulating those problems (If you’d like some sources, let me recommend Thor Skywalker and the Overlord for starters).
But there’s an even more fundamental issue that all of these criticisms seem to keep overlooking, and it’s one that should have sent red flags up in the minds of Star Wars Fans the moment the dreaded Corporate Rodent stepped up to purchase Lucas’ wonderful contribution to science fiction and fantasy. The first sign that should have sent people running and screaming from this exchange was that Disney threw out the established canon of the Expanded Universe.
There is a necessary degree of respect and abiding required when one is given permission to operate within the universe of any given epic tale. Disregarding the canon established by years of hard working authors who produced stories faithful to, and embellishing respecfully upon, the rules and history of the given universe is an act of utter hubris. It smacks of an arrogant despising, not only of the discarded tales, but also of the Epic itself. In essence, it’s like buying a house and talking about how beautiful and timeless it is, all the while harboring the intention to burn it to the ground.
This alone is bad enough to think about, but what makes matters far worse is that J.J. Abrams (no, I won’t call him by his derogatory nickname, as deserving of it as he might be) wrote a story arc that was already covered in the Expanded Universe! And I have to ask you, Mr. Abrams: Why? Why did you essentially reinvent the wheel?
The whole arc that Abrams cobbled together (and woefully so for many reasons, including–but not limited to–Rian Johnson’s meddling work) was basically a poor retelling of the Legacy of the Force arc, in which Jacen Solo essentially does what Abrams set up Ben Solo (Kylo Ren) to do. Abrams did not have to throw out the canon; he could have preserved the canon, used the LotF arc for a base (no, he didn’t have to follow the books word-for-word or scene-for-scene, but he could have been reasonably faithful to it while making allowance for his own creativity) and came up with essentially the same story, which would have been a LOT better than the Frankenstein-patchwork mess that comprises this trilogy, and the last movie in particular.
In essence, sticking to the established canon would have given Abrams his story, told much better, because it would have kept with the rest of the established universe, and would not have delved into the mess he and Kathleen Kennedy (with her obsession on group identity politics) created.
Don’t reinvent the wheel, my friends. Don’t disrespect the work of giants upon whose shoulders we stand. People like Lucas, Tolkien, Martin, C.S. Lewis, and others have built worlds and stories that have earned a place in the mythos of their respective universes. Nobody–NOBODY–has the right to undo that work.
If you want something done your way, create your own mythos, your own story, with your own original characters and plots. If you work within somebody else’s mythos, you owe it to those original creators and their fans to stay faithful to what’s already been established. To do otherwise is to invalidate yourself as a fan in my opinion, and it also indicates your disrespect of other people’s intellectual property.
And that’s all for now, folks. I think I might pull out the original trilogy and watch it in the next few days, as well as read some more EU books.
See you in the Vein!